Photo by / Vadvenn

A Healthy Resolution

With a New Year usually comes the resolution to get in better shape. I have a friend who said he was going to open a gym called Resolutions just for this purpose, knowing his facility would only be open in January. By the end of the month, most people will have given up on their enthusiasm for a renewed body.

I notice it’s not only gyms that capitalize on this popular intention. Ads on television and online promise if you take this pill, do this exercise, buy this equipment, or drink this liquid, you will see dramatic changes in your body in a short amount of time. If you don’t know your body well, however, these spontaneous actions could do you more harm than good.

For instance, I have IBS. For those unfamiliar with the chronic condition, it causes your gut to respond negatively to certain foods, resulting in gas, diarrhea, and constipation. In other words: not fun and something that kept me from many activities while growing up. Knowing my limitations, I don’t try these herbal TikTok and Instagram remedies for belly fat and certainly don’t ingest some industry-manufactured elixir that promises unlimited energy.

Believe it or not, there are natural ingredients that I can’t consume, so when these advertisers suggest being all natural will make their product harmless, I know better. But for many, the magic words “all natural” are enough to satisfy their concerns for product consumption, when in reality, to truly have something all natural means you grew and harvested it in your own backyard. Even then, I couldn’t eat all that garden.

When it comes to exercise, I usually walk in a park. What I wear depends mainly on what’s clean(ish) and comfortable for my session. When I see others during my exercise, their clothes are much different from mine. From color-coordinated tops and leggings to branded sets of apparel and shoes, I often assume there was more thought put into how they will look while they’re sweating than the actual training itself. Advertising again at its best.

So, what is health and how do you achieve it? At this point in life, I’m discovering that it’s an emotion and not the perfect selfie. I watch my son play with his friends and often wonder when was the last time I behaved the same way. When have I run at full speed to hug a friend, just because I was excited to see them? When was the last time I laughed so hard I fell to the ground in tears? I can’t remember the last time I was in spontaneous play with a group, without anyone having to be concerned about a deadline or schedule.

Joy. Laughter. Excitement. Bursts of screaming laughter. These are the things that create health and happiness, not constantly checking your step count or kettlebell reps. Yes, physical movement and eating healthy are essential to a healthy life, but I argue that how you feel about these things is what makes them truly successful.